That was the week that was.

Only nine years. It seems so much longer.

Hodophilia

It was a pleasant bike ride to the Waidalice bridge on Tuesday, followed by a more pleasant cruise down the Waidalice river and an exhilarating bumpy ride over the lagoon in somewhat blustery conditions.   It was breezy and overcast when I arrived, so I did not swim right away, but just settled in for a bit, explored, and and read.  Caqalai is a tiny island that one can walk around in about 15 minutes,
though I took a little longer as I stopped constantly to explore. Also
the tide was high, so I was walking in soft sand.  the weather began to improve immediately, and just got better over the next few days. 

I slept in a little bure, on the beach, and had a few good lazy days.
No phone, no radio, no laptop, no TV.  Lights out at ten when the
generator is turned off. 

I spent…

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Vai

The video is out.

You can buy it here or here on line, or ask your local dealer to get it for you.

I think you should.

Vai is a “portmanteau” film made by a group of female Pacific filmmakers, filmed on seven Pacific islands, and In New Zealand. It is about the journey of empowerment through culture over the lifetime of one woman, Vai. The theme of water, it’s ubiquity, it’s power, spiritual significance, connectivity and adaptability is a metaphor throughout the movie for the feminine and for the feminist principle.

Vai

One review includes this comment:

The filmmakers developed the script together but nevertheless, the consistency in their interpretation of her character is remarkable. Fierce, stubborn, passionate and strongly connected to her environment wherever she is, she (Vai) pushes at the limits of what women are expected to be at the same time as embodying the traditional feminine values of the region.

There is another very good review here.

Another here. So far I’ve only found very positive reviews.

One of my daughters is one of the directors, so you might expect me to say that her segment was among the best parts of the film, but I am not alone in that opinion. I have heard that said and seen it written by others.

For anyone not familiar with the diversity of cultures around the Pacific, the movie may seem a little bewildering at times because there are not too many specifically scripted explanations of the significance of what is happening in a cultural context. It is all decipherable in context, however, and the one thing viewers need to be aware of is that these cultural differences exist.

One importantly positive aspect is that despite the film being in segments that relate the experiences of the lead character (whose name varies slightly but always translates as “water” in the language used) and despite the character being portrayed by eight different actors of different cultures and different ages, it is easy to follow who she is each time.

What impressed me most is how beautifully this film was shot, with some exquisite camera work and direction, especially considering the limited budget and even more limited time available for rehearsal and shooting. More than one promising young director was involved in making this movie. And some very promising young first time actors also.

Eight and a half stars out of ten, seven if you discount the bit my daughter is responsible for.

🙂

Home

Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome — there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment. Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from up above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire.

Where I am now does not feel like home. I hoped it would, but it doesn’t. It is the place where I currently live. I live in a caravan, which is an object. The caravan is in a park on Bribie Island, which is a location. Neither the domicile nor the location is home. I’m not even sure these days what, or where, home might be for me. Or even where it was.

Every place I’ve ever considered to be home has been taken from me or I have had to leave it behind. Every place I’ve been happy, I’ve had to abandon. As child I moved with my parents wherever their aspirations led. As a young man I followed employment opportunities and my own romantic hopes. For the last eleven years I’ve gone again where necessity sent me, albeit of my own free will. I have found the occasional Happy Place, where I can enjoy being alive and communing with the natural world in some positive heart-lightening way, but I have had no home in that time. No place where I could look around me and say “This is where I belong. This is where I shall stay”.

Looking back I realise I have been searching for such a place since I was a child exploring the hills and fields and streams of the Manawatu, and as a young man exploring the bush and beaches and under the seas around New Zealand

Also, of course, as I explored the possibilities of a shared life, relationships, offering and seeking love.

Home is more than a house, more than a place. It is people in familial and social relationships. Relationships which are enduring and settled. It turns out I’m not so good at maintaining relationships. Two failed marriages, other failed relationships, and very little constant contact or intercourse with family.

I’m not sure if this is caused by, or is what causes, depression.

Fortunately, or perhaps otherwise, I am comfortable and content in my own company. I don’t get lonely when I am alone. Even so, social interaction comes easily enough to me. I don’t have the difficulties that, for example, an autistic person might. I can be amusing, empathetic, and supportive. Caring. Nonetheless I cannot seem to get right the combination of interaction that will lead me to have constancy of companionship and the stability of location that feeling at home requires. Others move on. Or I must.

So here I am ageing, separated from friends and family, with my social interaction limited to a few short term acquaintances and virtual friends whom I no longer see in person or have never even met in the first place.

All I can do now is seek out a new Happy Place. One where I can stay. I have no idea what, or where it might be, though I have an inkling it must be somewhere on or near the sea. Most of my Happy Places have been. I find peace and contentment by the sea, or by water, more than anywhere else.

Does this introspective essay mean I am, after all, becoming lonely?

I have to think about that.

Semi Colonisation

Back in hospital again, this time for an endoscopy and colonoscopy.  Yep. Both ends.

With the greatest of luck, I was admitted for the nights before and after the procedures.  So the kind offer of my new friends to pick me up and drop me off proved unnecessary.  The hospital staff had decided even the prep would be problematic for me in a caravan.  It turns out they were right.  When you are old enough for a colonoscopy, you’ll know what I mean.  In the meantime retain your blissful ignorance.

It all went well. A couple of polyps removed, budding haemorrhoids identified, and I have diverticula, a common enough condition in which the gut wall gets little pockets. These can be a problem if any food gets trapped in them and cause infection; diverticulitis.

This means I must chew my food well, and eat plenty of fibre. I do.

I don’t have bowel cancer, good news of which I was already quite sure, having been tested twice as part of a study in which I’m participating.

I shall be discussing the results in depth with my GP in a week from now.

After the procedure it transpired that my bed for that night was needed for a patient after all, but instead of letting me go home, they decided I was to be transferred to the private hospital next door. An upgrade in other words. Better food, at least. Not that there was anything wrong with the fare at Caboolture Hospital, the meals at Caboolture private hospital are just a little more upmarket. The surroundings are also a little more posh but the service and kindness the same. Excellent.

After the disappointing (mis)adventure of my left arm, and the surgical cock-up, my faith and admiration for the Australian health system has been fully restored.

And surprise! My kind friend Cindy from WA sent me flowers.

The Angry Nurse.

My last post celebrated the wonderful people in hospitals and surgeries who are the backbone of the health system and almost all of whom have been amongst the nicest of all people I have met. I have always – well, almost always – found that nurses have a robust and earthy sense of humour and they appreciate a patient who is cheerful and jocular – and I don’t mean sleazy.  I’m funny, not crude.

But there was one. I am sure she was nice most of the time. I am sure she had a sense of humour. She must have. She was a nurse!

But. It may have been something I said (it was).

The year was 1991. Our younger daughter was a toddler. June had not had an easy time having our two girls, in fact it was a bit touch and go both times. So we agreed it would be sensible and safer for her if we had no more. The risks are fewer for a man to have a vasectomy than for a woman to have her tubes tied and besides, June had already done her fair share of going under the knife, so it was agreed I would have the operation.

It all went according to plan, keyhole surgery, a single stitch at each site and sent home with instructions to return the following day to have the stitches taken out.

Tomorrow? Yes, cell division is quite fast down there. You will be healed enough to have them out. Fair enough.

I was driven home by my friend Jeff, and limped into the house to recover.

Next day I returned alone and after a short wait was taken into the surgery where once again I sat in the strange chair with my feet in stirrups and my tackle dangling in the breeze.

A middle aged spinsterly looking nurse came in. She had assisted with the operation the day before. I had got the impression she was single, and that she was very devoted to her surgeon.

She examined the site and was clearly pleased with the healing process, or perhaps she admired the fine work of her surgeon.

In any case she breathed “Ah, that’s beautiful!”

You know me, or you should by now.

I responded “Thanks. But I’m sorry, it is already spoken for!”

I thought that was pretty funny. A little humour to ease the embarrassment of the position I was in.

She stormed out of the surgery.

It was quite some time before she returned with a pair of nasty medical-looking plier implements in her hand. Without a word, she quickly clipped then yanked out the stitches. Not at all gently. Then she stormed out again.

Clearly I had offended her. I needed to apologise and point out it had been a joke.

Also, I had been told to expect to be given some post op instructions and a little jar that I would have to fill after a certain time in order to be sure the procedure had worked. So.

I waited patiently.

About 20 minutes passed as I sat there. I didn’t even know if I should get out of the stirrups and dress. Did I need anything else done before I covered up?

Eventually she poked her head round the door.

“Are you still here? You can go.” She disappeared again.

I dressed and left.

Months later I received a phone call from her, still sounding grumpy, demanding why I hadn’t followed instructions and brought in a sample bottle for a sperm count. I told her I had not been given the instructions and the bottle, but I did not remind her why. Best forgotten. So I had to make another run to collect them.

And that is the only nurse I remember who did not think I was a fun patient.

Support

I am a member of a small private Facebook support group of people with mental and physical health problems such as depression, anxiety, disability and chronic pain. It was started when someone on another forum announced he felt suicidal and was subsequently trolled by a few arseholes urging him to do it. He did. His sister posted the news and it was pretty devastating. So we created a safe space where fellow travellers could share their thoughts and their feelings without the risk of being trolled. When we spot someone in need of a friend we invite them in to a place they can speak freely and where everyone else understands something about what they are experiencing.

It is the main reason I stay on Facebook, which I originally joined only to stay in touch with my family. That didn’t work out so well as they now use other media.

It has been a life changing experience for me, because I now talk to people who have far greater problems than I, and who share how they cope (and sometimes don’t), and I get – and sometimes give – support and advice that truly helps us all get through whatever we are experiencing. Sometimes it’s just a place to vent knowing that only understanding people are reading ones post and are offering support while making no judgement.

Yesterday I had whinge on line that I was booked into Caboolture Hospital for a medical procedure that involved anaesthesia, but the hospital would not do it unless I had someone who would drop me off, pick me up, and monitor me for 24 hours afterwards. I have no one nearby who can do that. That meant I might have to go onto an ever lengthening waiting list until there was an overnight bed available that was not required by some patient in more urgent need. They told me frankly it could mean not having the procedure there at all.

One of Ricky Gervais’ lines in the series “Derek” is “A prayer is just a posh whinge, innit”.

My whinge turned out to be a prayer answered. One of my Fb friends lives In the vicinity. She and her husband offered to undertake the task of being my carer. We have never met, though we have conversed on Fb for several years. Nonetheless a virtual stranger has extended a real hand.

How cool is that?